Michael's Reviews > Company

Company by Max Barry
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's review
Oct 19, 2009

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bookshelves: read-in-2006
Read in April, 2006

For want of a doughnut, a company is reorganized pretty much sums up Max Barry’s latest novel Company.

If the premise sounds absurd, you’re right. But just like the corporate world, a single dougnut brings about the decline and fall of a company. It serves as a catalyst for the absurdity that can be and is corporate life.

What Jennifer Government did for the advertising industry, Company does for corporate life. But where Company trumps Jennifer is that the story follows a single protagonist in the story of corporate absurdity. If you’ve seen Office Space or The Office, you have a taste for what you’ll find in these pages. Thankfully, the story is more linear and doesn’t work as hard to have characters’ lives intersect ala Crash as was the case in Jennifer Government.

Stephen Jones is hired right out of college to work for the Zephyr Company. Within a day he’s promoted over people who have been with the company for years and tries to discover the rhyme and reason as to why certain decisions are made. As he tries to figure out the mind of the suits and just what it is Zephyr does, he’s drawn into a whole different world, one he never expected.

Max Barry’s satire is biting, especially as you recognize fellow co-workers in the pages of Company. The absurdity of behavoir from Roger the guy who can’t let go of his doughnut being eaten to Elizabeth, the sales rep who falls uncontrollably in love with her clients…that is until they sign the contracts, you will recognize people you know and have worked with. Yes, Barry does make some of the characters one-dimensional but overall, his wry comments on corporate life and the corporate world are dead-on.

The only negative is that the reveal of what is really behind Zephyr comes to early in the story and the novel coasts from there.
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